Robert Malley

Vice President, Policy,
International Crisis Group

Robert Malley is the incoming vice president of policy for the International Crisis Group. Recently, he served as special assistant to President Barack Obama, senior advisor to the president for the Counter-ISIL campaign, and White House coordinator for the Middle East, North Africa and Gulf region in 2015 to 2016. Prior to that, he was senior director for the Gulf region and Syria.  As the most senior White House official focused on the Middle East, Malley advised the president, secretary of state and national security advisor, coordinated government-wide efforts to counter the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, and was the lead White House negotiator for the Iran nuclear deal as well as for international talks on the Syrian civil war, including negotiations with the Russian Federation. He also oversaw the National Security Council staff’s work on the broad range of Middle East issues, from the Israeli-Palestinian conflict to relations with Gulf states. He earned the State Department’s Distinguished Service Award in 2016.

Before joining the National Security Council staff in February 2014, Malley founded and directed the International Crisis Group’s Middle East and North Africa program from January 2002. Prior to that, he was a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations.

Until January 2001, Malley was special assistant to President Clinton for Arab-Israeli affairs and director for Near East and South Asian affairs at the National Security Council. In this capacity, he served as a principal advisor to the president and the national security advisor at the White House on the Middle East peace process.

Malley first joined the National Security Council staff in August 1994 as director for democracy. He helped coordinate U.S. refugee policy and efforts to promote democracy and human rights abroad. He also played a leading role in U.S. policy toward Cuba. In July 1997, he became executive assistant to the national security advisor, acting as an informal chief of staff for Samuel R. Berger. Malley served as a law clerk to Justice Byron R. White of the United States Supreme Court from 1991 to 1992.

Malley is a graduate of Yale University, Harvard Law School and Oxford University, where he was a Rhodes Scholar. He is the author of “The Call from Algeria: Third Worldism, Revolution and the Turn to Islam” and, with Hussein Agha, of several articles, including “Camp David: The Tragedy of Errors ,” “The Last Negotiation,” “Three Men in a Boat,” “Hamas – The Perils of Power” and “The Arab Counter-Revolution.”  He has published articles in the New York Review of Books, Foreign Affairs, The New York Times, The Washington Post, Le Monde and several other publications.